On 12-13 September, Aboriginal cultural venue managers, staff and board members gathered in Armidale for the annual NSW Aboriginal Culture, Heritage & Arts Association (ACHAA) regional conference. Delegates travelled from Walgett, Kempsey, Corindi Beach, Albury, Moree, Mudgee and Western Sydney to attend.
The conference was held at the Armidale & District Aboriginal Cultural Centre & Keeping Place (ACCKP), one of the oldest Aboriginal community-owned cultural centres in NSW. ACCKP has recently completed an extension, including additional gallery space, with project funding supported by Infrastructure and Create NSW.
Delegates were Welcomed to Country by ACCKP Chairperson and Anaiwan woman Rose Lovelock. Director of ACCKP, Dr Daisy William spoke about the transformation of the centre during her past 14 years in the role. The centre is the custodian for the Tingha Green Valley Collection of cultural objects that belongs to the NSW Aboriginal Land Council. They host a multitude of exhibitions as well as facilitating Aboriginal men’s gatherings, Aboriginal women’s gatherings and various public programs.
The conference coincided with exhibition openings at ACCKP, Inspiration by Tania Walker, an Aboriginal artist from Casino; Thunghutti Art by Tyler Stackman and a collection of artefacts from ACCKP and works from the Tingha Green Valley collection entitled Aboriginal Instruments of Australia. As a gesture of gratitude, ACHAA supported local musician Anthony Green to perform at the opening.
Other local and regional speakers included Callum Clayton-Dixon, an Ambēyang man who co-founded the Anaiwan Language Revival Program in 2016 and Len Waters who established his own cultural tours business in Tamworth in 2015 where he also operates the Long Gully Café and Keeping Place in the Botanic Gardens.
Gumbaynggirr artist and Creative Director of the Wadjar Gallery at Yarrawarra Aboriginal Cultural Centre (also an ACHAA member) Alison Williams presented a session on cultural programming, while I presented on exhibitions as storytelling, based on my former experiences at the Powerhouse Museum. Dr Daisy Williams presented on social media marketing.
For the first time, the Indigenous Art Code’s CEO Gabrielle Sullivan and The Copyright Agency’s Indigenous Engagement Manager, Quandamooka lawyer Stephanie Parkin were invited to join the conference to highlight the work of their respective organisations.
Also in attendance were the State Library of NSW’s Indigenous Engagement Manager Damien Webb and Project Officer Monica Galassi. Following on from the ACHAA meeting held at the State Library in March, they presented on their latest developments with the Mukurtu digital keeping place software and tips for organising and prioritising collections.
Manager for First Nations Strategic Development at the Australia Council, Joanne Brown spoke about the consultation outcomes and next steps in developing the National Indigenous Arts and Cultural Authority. Peter White, Senior Manager, Aboriginal Engagement and Strategy at Create NSW spoke via teleconference, covering funding opportunities, changes within Create NSW and the ongoing development of the Aboriginal Arts & Culture Strategy.
On the final day, delegates and presenters adjourned to the New England Regional Art Museum for a tour conducted by Belinda Hungerford, the Exhibition & Curatorial Manager.
Following the success of the conference, a Sydney meeting and a regional conference are planned for 2020, with locations and details to be announced in the new year.
Museums and Galleries of NSW provides secretariat support to ACHAA and co-ordinates the production of its gatherings. The conference was supported by the NSW Government through Create NSW.
Aboriginal Programs Manager
Museums & Galleries of NSW